Tag Archives: lettuce

San Choi Bau

11 Dec

Just looking at B’s jook made me very hungry. We call it congee here, and it is one of those wonderful foods that the late night chinese restaurants like Supper Inn do a roaring trade in. I am looking forward to making it now.

Have I mentioned how much I love that this blog makes me try out new recipes? Well… san choi bau is one of those delicious things I order whenever I see it on a menu in a Chinese restaurant, but have never made it before.


I am not going to suggest this is a 100% authentic Chinese recipe. I looked at quite a few variations, and they were all so different. The concept is a lettuce cup filled with a spoonful or two of deliciously flavoured minced meat and herbs. Add in some fried noodles for a bit of crunch if you like. You could even throw in uncooked bean shoots to get a similar effect. It seems you can use whatever meat you have on hand, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, prawns and even duck. Many recipes used oyster sauce, and I have no doubt that what I have had in restaurants, but I have yet to find an oyster sauce without that dastardly MSG, so I didn’t go that direction this time.

What I used…


Chicken mince, iceberg lettuce, bean shoots, spring onion (scallion), onion, ginger, garlic, garlic chives, water chestnuts, sesame oil, chili sauce, chinese cooking wine, pre-fried noodles, vegetable oil and some soy sauce.

I began by chopping up the onion finely, and sautéing in a pan over low heat. When translucent, I added minced ginger and garlic, and cooked for only a minute before adding the chicken mince. I turned the heat up to medium and fried until browned a little, but not fully cooked.

onionGarlicGinger chicken

I then added in the liquids; sesame oil, soy sauce, cooking wine and a dash of chili, and cooked until the liquid reduced somewhat before tossing in the chopped spring onions, water chestnuts, bean shoots and some chopped garlic chives.


At the last minute I stirred through the fried noodles then spooned the mix in to some pieces of iceberg lettuce. Some more garlic chives on top… and hey presto.


I made six largish lettuce cups, and you could probably get ten smaller ones from these quantities.

They work well as a small appetiser before a meal.


B tells me they are called lettuce wraps in the old US of A.


San Choi Bau


1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
Half an onion or three red shallots, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
250g (1/2 pound) minced chicken
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1.5 teaspoons of sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili sauce or chopped red chili (or to taste)
10 peeled water chestnuts chopped finely
1/2 cup bean shoots
2 spring onions chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic chives, half for garnish
1/2 cup fried noodles
10-ish iceberg lettuce leaves, pick the nicest shaped ones and trim them with scissors if needed

Sauté the onion over medium-low heat until translucent, and then add in the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for another minute. Add in the chicken mince and cook over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small pieces as it does, until it is close to cooked through. Add in the soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, and the chili. Continue to cook and let the liquid evaporate by half. Add in the water chestnuts, bean shoots, spring onions and half of the garlic chives. Cook for 4 more minutes, and then stir through the fried noodles.

Spoon the mixture in to the prepared lettuce cups, garnish with the remaining garlic chives and serve immediately.


Grilled dinner: Asparagus and Prosciutto Pizza and Romaine Salad

7 May

Tis the season to be grilling! Alice inspired me to make a dinner on the grill. The weather in Minnesota is not always beautiful, sunny and warm, so when we do have a beautiful day, we want to be outside soaking it in.

My friends Jill and John and their young daughter Grace are some of my favorite grilling buddies. Every once in a while, I head up to their house and spend time with them, visiting and cooking. They’ve been my willing subjects when I experiment with different dishes and this week was no exception. I tried this dish last summer and really loved the flavor of the grilled pizza crust.

I made some pizza dough and let it rise while I prepared the rest of the ingredients, there it is resting under the dishtowel. You can use pre-made pizza dough or even the pre-baked pizza crust, but I always prefer home made. This recipe is very easy to make, especially on a spring afternoon that feels like summer, or an actual summer afternoon when the weather is warm, because the dough will rise very nicely.

This pizza is mounded high with marinated shaved asparagus. The trick to shaving the asparagus is to use a vegetable peeler. Just start at the sprout end, using the woody stem part as a handle and peel/shave away until you have a mound of slivered asparagus. Toss it with the juice of half a lemon and some crushed garlic.

Cut some mozzarella into small cubes, and slice up some prosciutto.

Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch circle and brush it very generously with olive oil.

After heating up the grill, carefully lay the greased dough circle onto the grill.

Close the lid and let it grill until it is solid and has some nice grill marks.

This should allow you to easily remove it from the grill, flip it over and add the toppings.

Put it back on the grill, close the lid and let it continue to cook until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned. Then slide it off the grill, cut it up and eat. Warning, this step might take various tools and more than two hands!!

It was a little tricky to make it look pretty, so bear with the lopsided pizza – it did, however, taste quite good.

Meanwhile, since the grill is already warm, why not grill up the salad too?

Cut a bunch of romaine lettuce in half, keeping the stem intact to hold the leaves together, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Marinate some shrimp in lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Wash a cup of grape or cherry tomatoes.

Grill the shrimp just until it is pink. If you use frozen pre-cooked shrimp like I did, then just put them on for a couple of minutes so they capture some of the grilled flavor and they are completely thawed.

Place the lettuce on the grill, cut side down.

Flip after a few minutes. You want the lettuce to wilt a little and get some of the smoky grill flavor, but don’t leave it for too long or you will just have little crispy lettuce bits. Grill on each side for about three minutes each, then remove from grill and chop into bite sized chunks.

Toss with the grape tomatoes and shrimp, drizzle with olive oil and splash with red wine vinegar.

Grace really was excited about the tomatoes.

And she really enjoyed the pizza.

Pizza and salad from the grill. It’s just the thing for summer!

Grilled Pizza

I used SmittenKitchen.com for the recipe for the crust, which really was super easy. And then loosely based my pizza on her shaved asparagus pizza

1 recipe Really Simple Pizza Dough or your favorite pizza dough
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
4 oz finely sliced proscuitto
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
the juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Mix up the pizza dough and while it is resting and rising, shave half a pound or a small bunch of asparagus by using a vegetable peeler. Start at the top, at the sprout and peel down the stem, using the woody end as your handle. It’s OK if the pieces all come out different widths, it just makes the pizza more interesting. Toss the shaved asparagus with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Chop up the mozzarella cheese into small cubes, grate the Parmesan if needed and slice the prosciutto into thin strips.

Preheat your grill to about 500 degrees F or high heat.

When the dough is ready, roll or toss it if you are a fancy Italian pizza tosser, into a 12-14 inch round.  Brush one side very generously with olive oil. Put the pizza on the hot grill, olive oil side down. One thing I learned from my sadly deformed pizza, is that even though I like the taste of a thinner crust on my pizza, thicker crusts are much easier to work with on the grill.

Once the dough has grilled enough to have nice grill marks on the bottom and is solid enough to move, remove from the grill, generously brush the raw side with olive oil, then flip it over so the grilled side is up and the raw side is down.

Load the toppings on the pizza and finish grilling with the lid down. If you are brave, you can top the pizza while it is on the grill. If you are not brave, you can top the pizza on a separate surface and return it to the grill fully topped. All of this has to be done very carefully, as the pizza dough is still soft and breakable.

Once the cheese has melted and is browned and once you have lovely grill marks on the bottom of the pizza, you’re ready to eat!

If you need more pointers, The Kitchn has a good step by step guide to grilling pizza and Pillsbury has a nice tip on how to get the dough on the grill without deforming it by using tin foil.

Grilled Salad

2 Romaine lettuce hearts
Olive oil, a drizzle
Red wine vinegar, a drizzle
1 pound of pre-cooked shrimp
1 container of grape tomatoes
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Cut the Romaine hearts in half, keeping the stem intact. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Toss the shrimp with the lemon juice and crushed garlic. Grill the shrimp briefly on a hot grill pan just to give it some smoky flavor.

Place the lettuce on the grill, cut side down, for three minutes. Flip over and grill the other side for three minutes, then remove from the grill, chop into bite sized chunks and combine with the shrimp and tomatoes. Drizzle the whole salad with some nice olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.

I sure enjoyed the grilled dinner that you started, Alice. What do you have for us next?!

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